Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
~ Joel 2:12-13 ~
Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.
~ Zachariah 1:3 ~
In Joel 2:12–13, the Lord calls to Israel, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” In the Old Testament, people commonly expressed great grief and anguish by tearing their cloaks. But more than caring about the proper “signs” of being upset about their sin, God cared that they actually grieved over them in their hearts — grieved to the point of weeping and mourning.
In his famous psalm of repentance, David reminds us that God does not delight so much in the outward signs of repentance (which included making a sacrifice), but “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). We’re not talking about the shame and condemnation the enemy wants to heap on us, but a godly grief.
We can be in the habit of going through the motions when it comes to repenting, but these passages show that the most important thing is the condition of our heart. Does your repentance look like a heart that has been rent like a garment, broken and contrite as it beats before God? This attitude is missing from most repentance, and it’s the very thing God is trying to teach us!
~ Matt Erbaugh – The Heart of True Repentance ~
My own problems in life have often brought me down to the pit of despair. And, because of such hopelessness that, nothing I am able to do possessed the power to change my situation. Time and again I had returned to my Heavenly Father as a last resort. Filled with thoughts of unhappiness, my whole idea was to seek a place where I am rescued from such hopelessness. Fortunate enough I had found many places that permitted such relief. A safe harbor to express my own sense of loss. A place where I found hope and new direction. Often found compassion, concern, and encouragement. Hope and faith grew for but a little season.
Yet time and again I found myself down my own path where decisions and self-will led back to the pit of despair. Only to repeat the cycle more often than what was probably needed. Fortunate are those who found their way out of such travesty and maintained their own personal course of spiritual growth and journey. No longer burdened with their own multitude of transgressions.
Work had to be done, a new way of thinking and believing had to take root. I had to learn that for my problems of yesterday and those of my fears for tomorrow needed to be put away. The first thing I had to learn was to put away the idea that whenever I found myself in despair that God is not a mere sounding board for my continual vomitry of reviewed miseries experienced.
I had to not only reach out to my Heavenly Father. I had to reach out through sincere brokenness of spirit. Mourning my own demise. Experiencing what scripture refers to as Godly grief over my own sins and transgressions. Detach myself from my own will and desire. I had to learn to listen and recognize his voice. I had to learn to live differently. Put aside my ego. Put away my own selfish will and desires.
To me, at that time in my life, God was merely a belief in saving me in those moments of despair and then I did live according to my own will and desires. Only giving thought toward Him in times of need and despair. It was once said that there were no atheists in foxholes. Many times I came to believe in God – when it suited my needs. After those needs, I abandoned Him.
It was not a few years ago that when I truly immersed myself in understanding what it meant to live a more mindful Christian life that I came to believe that my Heavenly Father was not merely someone helping me out of those many differing pits of despair. He was my Heavenly Father desiring to have a right relationship with me. Today, I am grateful to have an ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father. I no longer see Him as a rescuer so that I can go on and live my life according to my own will and desire.
God is my Heavenly Father to whom I worship and submit myself to daily. No longer do I find myself traversing the path that leads to despair. No longer do I need to call out to be rescued. God is there to not only forgive – he is there to restore. All we are asked to do is come to a place of Godly grief and be willing to lay our own selfish will and desires on the alter of sacrifice.
TODAY’S PRAYER AND MEDITATION
Heavenly Father, I humbly and willingly submit myself over to your care and your will. Though my times of despair has brought me to a place of seeking you out. I know that through my daily commitment to live according to your will and desire there is no longer fear. I have already been rescued and redeemed. No longer experiencing despair in my life. Your grace is sufficient for me each day. Thank you for your forgiveness and love toward me. In Jesus Name, Amen.